Cheng Shude: An Early Birthday Gift, and Taking A Stand…

So… I realize that part 2 of the post on Analects 2.3 is due–and it’s on its way, trust me.  Part of the reason I didn’t post the rest of the 2.3 interpretation today was because I just received, via Interlibrary Loan through UConn’s library, a copy of Cheng Shude’s 論語集釋 (Lunyu jishi), a collection of commentaries on the Analects, which is absolutely massive, and which I want to glance at to get some commentary on 2.3.  Cheng, an early 20th century scholar, collected a whole boatload of traditional commentaries on the Analects, and collected them together in this work–which is, of course, why it’s called the jishi (“collected explanations”).  I just got the copy today, and it’s awesome.  It contains both the He Yan commentaries and the Zhu Xi, and a whole lot more.  

There are only a couple of problems–1) I’ve only been able to get my hands on the first volume of this edition, which only covers up to Book 12 of the Analects.  To give you some sense of how much commentary is here, this volume runs to 764 pages.  And this isn’t a large-print, double spaced, one inch margins type deal.  No!–764 pages of tiny print Chinese characters, where each page is probably equivalent to about four of the same content in English.  Which brings me to problem 2) the characters are so small, I either have to put my face all the way to the book and still squint to see them, or invest in a magnifying glass.  They’re so small that the ink used to print the thing in many places runs together because a character has too many strokes, making it look like a jumbled mess or a pure ink blot, so sometimes you can only figure out what the character is from the context.  For example, I had to guess there’s a 焉 at the end of one line of commentary, because 馬, 為, and the like wouldn’t have really made any sense…  Unfortunately, not all the ink blots are this easy to figure out.  Some of them leave me scratching my head.
Anyway, regardless of the problems, the collection rules, and I’ll be sad when I have to send it back to the Brown University library.  I think I’ll just buy a copy of this one somewhere–if I can find it.  I look at this as an early birthday gift (albeit a temporary one).
Speaking of birthday–tomorrow (Tuesday) is my 30th birthday.  I thought I’d mention that because (as I mentioned to Chris in a conversation today), if I plan on modeling myself after Confucius, I ought to now be “taking a stand” (立 li).  I guess I’m falling a little short on that one, though–I don’t know how much of a stand one can take while hidden away in library offices and coffee shops working on a dissertation on Confucian ethics.  Oh well.  
More to come soon (if I don’t lose my mind trying to read microscopic characters)!

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